Badger Trust response to HRH Prince Charles’ letters

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The Badger Trust has reacted strongly to pro-culling comments made by HRH Prince Charles in his recently revealed correspondence with the government.

Peter Martin, the Trust’s newly appointed Chairman and a close neighbour of the Prince in Tetbury said, “These comments display a complete lack of understanding not only of basic badger ecology but also of the true causes of TB in cattle.

“His comments on overpopulation are completely wrong. Badgers have no natural predators and their population has always been controlled by their own territorial behaviour and by the availability of habitat and food.

“Their numbers are simply recovering after centuries of persecution by farmers and baiters, which threatened to wipe out the species prior to their legal protection in 1992.”

Responding to comments made by the Prince of Wales that the badger lobby is ‘intellectually dishonest’ the Badger Trust CEO Dominic Dyer said: “This is an extraordinary accusation. He is effectively condemning some of the finest scientific minds in the country, who have clearly stated that culling badgers can play no significant part in the control TB in cattle.

“This was confirmed by the failure of the two recent pilot culls which were condemned as inhumane and completely ineffective, failing even to reach their basic targets for badgers culled.

“Moreover, the Prince has insulted 90 per cent of his future subjects who, in a recent ComRes poll, opposed any further culling of badgers.”

The Badger Trust is contacting Clarence House to seek an urgent meeting with the Prince of Wales to clarify its position on badger culling and to present him with the latest scientific studies and farm-level data that prove cattle testing, basic bio-security and movement control measures are the only effective way forward in controlling bovine TB.

The Trust feels that if there has been any ‘intellectual dishonesty’ then it is to be found in the farming industry and government’s point-blank refusal to test culled badgers for TB.

“Whilst we accept these comments were made 10 years ago,” said Badger Trust Chairman Peter Martin, “they nevertheless demonstrate a worrying level of misunderstanding on the Prince’s part. Rightly or wrongly he is considered to be very influential, not only in farming circles but also as a public opinion former. We need to make sure he is fully apprised of the facts and that his future comments on the subject are based on these rather than persistent rural mythology surrounding the role of badgers in cattle TB.”

“Bovine TB is a form of industrial pollution,” concludes Peter Martin. “Our wildlife is being infected with it at an alarming rate and it is incumbent on farmers to prevent that happening by adopting simple good husbandry practices. As a case in point, I was walking on a footpath on the Highgrove estate just this morning and noticed two basic examples of bad practice.

“Firstly there was a salt-lick placed on the ground where it will attract all sorts of mammals and create a disease hot-spot for TB if it is present in the cattle.

“Secondly, the cattle trough behind it was too low thereby allowing all kinds of wild mammals to drink from it, including badgers.

Both of these are basic mistakes and we feel His Royal Highness should start to address this sort of thing before pointing the finger at wildlife or casting aspersions on the intellectual integrity of the scientific community or the population at large.”

In 1994 Prince Charles had 15 badgers slaughtered after an outbreak of TB on his Highgrove Estate.

All were found to be free of the disease

Badger Trust

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